Equitable Water Access for Detroiters in the Early 20th Century

Author(s): Katharine E. Blatchford

Year: 2020


This is a poster submission presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

The city of Detroit’s population quadrupled from 285,000 people in 1900 to nearly a million in 1920. This growth created enormous demands on the city’s infrastructure and its ability to provide residents with basic services. Access to clean water was vital to the health and quality of life of city residents. This research uses material culture, historic documents, and Geographic Information Systems visualizations in order to assess the development of Detroit’s water infrastructure and its effects on residents’ health. I use archaeological data to examine the extent to which the process of constructing and allocating water resources to Detroiters was equitable, considering how access was granted according to political motivations and class-based prioritization.   I identify issues of equity in water access and consider how race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status may have been factors in its allocation. The research contributes to understanding the consequences of urban policy decisions on residents.

Cite this Record

Equitable Water Access for Detroiters in the Early 20th Century. Katharine E. Blatchford. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457390)

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Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 557